Infantino voted out or exit?: Europe’s football dispute with FIFA escalates

Infantino voted out or exit?
European football escalates dispute with FIFA

The FIFA President will be re-elected in March, so far there has been no opposing candidate for incumbent Gianni Infantino. The DFB distances itself from the Swiss, and other European associations would also like a different football boss. Even the EU Parliament votes on the World Cup in Qatar.

Even after the sign of the national football team, the criticism of FIFA does not stop. In its World Cup resolution, the EU Parliament condemned the behavior of the world association and Qatar, and the German Football Association (DFB) is advising the other “rebels” on how to proceed. It’s no longer just about the ban on the “One Love” bandage. Even a withdrawal from FIFA is considered the ultimate step, with the Danish association describing reports about its own withdrawal considerations as a misunderstanding. Such a step is not planned, the Reuters news agency quoted press spokesman Jakob Hoejer as saying.

“We have been discussing this in the Nordic region since August,” said Danish association boss Jesper Möller about the plans of the Scandinavians allied with the DFB: “We have to evaluate what happened and then we have to develop a strategy – also with our Nordic Colleagues.”

It is fitting that the Norwegian association, led by FIFA critic Lise Klaveness, has publicly joined the DFB. Like the German association, the Norwegians have also refused to support the controversial world association president Gianni Infantino on the way to his re-election. The Swedish association meanwhile declared that it also belongs to the FIFA opposition.

EU Parliament wants more pressure on FIFA

“We at the NFF don’t trust Infantino to be the right leader to take us forward,” Klaveness said. The 41-year-old regrets that there are no opposing candidates from Europe for the March 2023 election. The NFF made “many attempts” to get someone to run – but everyone refused. She herself did not want to run against Infantino, whose re-election is considered certain.

The EU Parliament has little understanding for this. Thursday’s resolution denounced, among other things, the suspected corruption in awarding the World Cup, the death of guest workers, so-called “sportswashing” and the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community in Qatar.

Above all, Parliament called on EU countries with big leagues like Germany to put pressure on FIFA. The award process must become more transparent, and compliance with human rights should play an important role. The compensation fund for the relatives of injured or dead guest workers must also be set up.

DFB is “not happy with the behavior”

Many MPs wore the “One Love” armband during the vote. The supporters of the resolution also stood up to show FIFA the “yellow card” in a figurative sense. Meanwhile, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in Berlin that she personally told Infantino in the national team’s first World Cup match against Japan (1-2) that she saw FIFA’s ban “as a big mistake”. She “expressed her protest” with the “One Love” bandage on her arm.

Bernd Neuendorf also speaks to Infantino. The DFB President did not want to overstate the exchange with the Swiss about the Japan game, but Neuendorf clarified his point of view again. “We are still clear on the matter. Gianni Infantino knows that too,” said the DFB boss on ARD: “We are not happy with FIFA’s behavior.” Neuendorf emphasized the importance of the largest individual sports association in the world: “We can expect such a large association to deal properly with the very largest association (individual sports association, editor’s note) – namely the DFB.”

It is not only the Scandinavians who question whether there should be any dealings with FIFA at all. The sustainability initiative “Sports for Future” called on the DFB to withdraw from FIFA and brought “the establishment of an alternative global association” into play. In addition, the sponsors should end their partnership with the world association.

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